OBJECTIVES: Minimalist running shoes have been proposed as an alternative to barefoot running. However, several studies have reported cases of forefoot stress fractures after switching from standard to minimalist shoes. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate the differences in plantar pressure in the forefoot region between running with a minimalist shoe and running with a standard shoe in healthy female runners during overground running.
DESIGN: Randomized crossover design.
METHODS: In-shoe plantar pressure measurements were recorded from eighteen healthy female runners. Peak pressure, maximum mean pressure, pressure time integral and instant of peak pressure were assessed for seven foot areas. Force time integral, stride time, stance time, swing time, shoe comfort and landing type were assessed for both shoe types. A linear mixed model was used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Peak pressure and maximum mean pressure were higher in the medial forefoot (respectively 13.5% and 7.46%), central forefoot (respectively 37.5% and 29.2%) and lateral forefoot (respectively 37.9% and 20.4%) for the minimalist shoe condition. Stance time was reduced with 3.81%. No relevant differences in shoe comfort or landing strategy were found.
CONCLUSIONS: Running with a minimalist shoe increased plantar pressure without a change in landing pattern. This increased pressure in the forefoot region might play a role in the occurrence of metatarsal stress fractures in runners who switched to minimalist shoes and warrants a cautious approach to transitioning to minimalist shoe use.